After a thrilling finish to the Final Four between Duke and North Carolina, we’ll reach the pinnacle of the season on Monday night. Let’s dig into my national title bets for Kansas vs. UNC, along with a special offer from BetMGM below.
Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting chat, where bettors chat about their favorite national title wagers. You can reference my pre-NCAA tournament power rankings as well.
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National Title Bets: No. 1 Seed Kansas vs. No. 8 Seed UNC
Not only did the Tar Heels send Mike Krzyzewski packing in his final collegiate game on the sidelines, but Hubert Davis also becomes the fifth-ever first-year coach to reach the national title game.
On the flip side, the Jayhawks dismantled Villanova while scoring 1.40 points per possession (PPP) with a grand total of 58 possessions. Essentially, their efficiency was off the charts.
So how should we go about betting the final game of the big dance?
Armando Bacot’s Status
After the 6-foot-10 center sprained his ankle late in the second half against Duke, his condition represents Monday night’s biggest storyline.
Bacot will deal with swelling along the way, but we can all try to play the role of doctor and fail miserably. A recent example we can use to prognosticate comes from former Texas Tech big Tariq Owens, though.
The projected productivity of the Red Raiders’ rim protector was unknown for the 2019 title game because of a similar ankle injury. Owens accrued just 22 minutes in the loss to Virginia, yet his playing time was more of a result of foul trouble.
If Bacot appears to be close his normal self, he could take advantage of his counterpart David McCormack. Kansas’ big held Villanova center Eric Dixon to just 2-of-7 shooting. Nevertheless, Bacot presents more low-post physicality and craftiness on cuts to the rim, which the Jayhawks struggle to defend individually and collectively.
Plus, Bill Self’s squad is susceptible to allowing second-chance opportunities against lengthier teams. In particular, it yielded the fourth-highest offensive rebounding rate in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks let up 13 of them to Providence in the Sweet 16 as well.
Unfortunately for Self, Bacot is a mammoth on the glass, racking up the 21st-highest offensive rebounding rate in the nation.
At the other end, McCormack likely won’t be as profitable as his 23-point showing versus the Wildcats. On top of Bacot’s other traits, he’s a premier post-up defender.
With that being said, the Tar Heels are a vastly different team with a limited Bacot. But I’m anticipating a positive impact — unlike what the market currently thinks.
Full disclosure, I have a long-shot Most Outstanding Player (MOP) bet on the Richmond, Va., native from earlier in the NCAA tournament.
Is Kansas’ Hot Shooting Sustainable?
Caleb Love’s 3-point dagger versus the Blue Devils was one of Saturday’s headlines, and the Jayhawks’ 54.2% clip from distance was another. Ochai Agbaji, the 2021-22 Big 12 Player of the Year, delivered his best performance in the dance with 21 points via 6-of-7 shooting from deep.
Kansas’ effectiveness will unquestionably take a dip because of shooting variance. However, it could expose a thus-far lucky UNC perimeter defense. Its tournament opponents have shot 26.2% on 3s despite manufacturing open jumpers.
According to ShotQuality, Duke was expected to score roughly six more points in that department — based on its quality attempts.
On the other hand, he Tar Heels should notch their own clean, perimeter looks if Bacot is able to generate the second-chance shots. While the Jayhawks are giving up the 25th-lowest 3-point clip (30.1%) in the sport, the Wildcats laid out the blueprint to exposing their ball-screen coverage.
This one should be a high-possession affair with how often both teams aim to run. That should lead to more efficient 3s, too.
National Title Conclusion
Let’s wait to see if the market continues to bump up this number. There will either be value via that route or live betting the Tar Heels at around three possessions or better.
- Update: Per source, Bacot’s mobility isn’t expected to be very limited. I’m not sure we see a better number in-game, so I bet a cheap +4.
Eli’s National Title Bets: UNC +4 (-105 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
Best Available Line: UNC